The New York Rays

One of the things that came from Hurricane Irma was that the sports calendar and map got shuffled around. That’s quite understandable of course, because you don’t want to risk the health and safety of fans, players, or the structure of these facilities hosting the events.

Tropicana Field hosted a three game series between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers while Houston was flooded by Hurricane Harvey. When it looked like our area was going to get Irma, MLB moved the series where the Rays were going to host the New York Yankees.

I understand the logistical nightmares moving games around can be, and I don’t think that’s an easy operation by any means. But having the Rays host games at Citi Field where the Mets play is embarrassing. It’s basically giving the Yankees three more home games where their fans will come out in droves.

I get that there are times that games can’t always be played at neutral facilities, but come on. Baseball could have made something positive out of all of this, but instead chose to gave one of its prized teams an advantage that could make the difference as to whether or not they make the playoffs.

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Language Barrier

Perhaps I should have known something was wrong earlier on in the evening.

Friday night, I'm watching the Rays game with Texas. I'm also on the computer which sits to the right of my TV in the bedroom, which prevents me from noticing the ore-game show has no sound. I don't have the TV on mute, so there should be sound.

I do some chores and get back to the game at about 7:30. Now there's audio, but it's in Spanish. Again, I'm not generally concerned about it, so I fiddle around on the computer some more. I know the Spanish announcers will go into some high pitched exclamations if something good happens, plus it could be some sort of technical issue on the broadcasters end.

Midway through the game, it's still in Spanish. Now I'm thinking its something wrong on my end. I pour through the various audio settings, and restore settings to their defaults. BOOM! There's the voice of Dewayne Staats calling balls and strikes.

Somehow, my TV had found and switched over to the SAP audio channel. Don't know how it happened, but it did. Weird.

Raysvolution

Can’t help but notice how good are local team has been playing as of late. As of the end of play Tuesday night past, the Rays are 51-44, two games behind Boston for the lead in the AL East, and would get the first of two wildcard spots if the season ended there. 

Notice that I’m not using the right letter word beginning with P just yet. There are 67 games left in the regular season, so a lot can and probably will happen. 

The one thing I’m noticing that has me optimistic is this team is gaining confidence, especially since taking three out of four from the Red Sox recently. Belief is important when the best teams lose 60 times a year. 

Hoping there’s something good ahead, but we baseball fans are a superstitious bunch. Let’s not get overhyped. 

Twin Bill

In a couple of days, Tampa Bay and Oakland’s baseball teams play two games against each other in the same day. 

Two things make this doubleheader unusual. One, the games will take place back to back, with a half hour break between the games. These days, doubleheaders are usually played with a game in the early afternoon and a game at night, so that teams can charge separate admissions for each game. 

The other unusual part of this attraction Saturday is that this was a scheduled doubleheader, not something done for inclement weather. Plus, this is only the second such event at Tropicana Field, because usually domed stadiums prevent weather from interfering with the game. 

It’ll be interesting how well this regularly scheduled doubleheader draws. Tropicana usually holds 30,000 for baseball, though it can 40,000 if there is demand for it. If it draws well, maybe this becomes a yearly attraction. 

Let The Show Begin

Always good to see Dewayne and BA behind the microphone. April 2, 2017.

The older I get, the more appreciation I have for the game of baseball, and those who play it. It is the one sport that spans the ages like no other sport.

Yesterday the 2017 campaign got underway, with the Tampa Bay Rays getting the honor of playing the seasons lid lifter against the treacherous Yankees of New York. 

The Rays prevailed 7-3, with Evan Longoria claiming the first RBI, then the first home run of the season. 

Welcome back, baseball. I think I missed you a bit. 

Game 162

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of one of the more famous games in the short history of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise.

On September 28, 2011, the Rays played the Yankees in the last game of the season, with the Yankees already having clinched the AL East division title a few days prior to the game. They (the Rays) were tied with the Boston Red Sox for the wild card spot (given to the team with the best record not winning a division, and back then only one wild card was allotted per league), meaning if the Rays and Red Sox each won or lost, there would have been a one-game playoff the following day in St. Petersburg.

The Yankees seemed the better team that night, holding a 7-0 lead going to the bottom of the 8th inning. When the Rays were seemingly doomed to hoping Boston would lose to Baltimore to force a playoff, the bats came alive for Tampa Bay in that next to last frame. They scratched for three runs in the inning before a mammoth home run by Evan Longoria cut the score to 7-6. In the 9th, Dan Johnson would homer with two outs, tying the game at 7-7 and forcing extra innings.

As the game had moved to the 12th inning, word came down that Boston had lost to Baltimore, ensuring that at the very least, the Rays and Red Sox would go to a playoff the next day should Tampa Bay lose this game. About a minute and a half later, Evan Longoria hit a line drive down the left field line, having just enough height to clear the short wall for a home run. The Rays won 8-7, and Evan Longoria joined Bobby Thompson of the 1951 New York Giants as the only two men to send their team to the playoffs on a home run.

As for me, I watched in total disbelief. I thought for sure it was the Yankees night, but when they jumped out to a 7-0 lead, it was disheartening. I remember turning the TV off and listening to the game on radio. When the Rays cut it to 7-3, I turned the game back on TV just in time to see Evan’s first homer that cut it to 7-6. People forget how important the Dan Johnson home run was, because if that were an out, the Rays would have lost. Then when the Rays won it in the 12th, I was speechless. I was happy they won, but I just couldn’t believe that they won.

It was quite a night.

Keeping Score

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On Thursday night, I was watching the Rays-Yankees game on local TV off of Fox Sports Sun. As they have done in previous years, the broadcasters used the game as a teaching tool, telling viewers how to keep score of a game. (The Rays won the game, 2-0.)

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Why should WE learn how to keep score? Don’t the people who run the game KNOW how to keep score?” Truth be told, I didn’t know how to keep score of a game, until I played the “Pursue The Pennant” board game as a high schooler.

I know, I didn’t answer my hypothetical question yet. There’s a good reason to keep score of a baseball game, or at least until the “computer age” we all live in now, there was. The advantages of keeping score is to keep an individual statistical track of the game to peruse for yourself. Sure, you can go to Retrosheet (one of my favorite sites) and look at the records of almost any game played throughout the years. But, keeping score gives you your own personal record.

Do I keep score when I go to Rays games? Nope. I like the ability to mingle and talk about the game with who I go with. But, every time I do go, someone in my area always seems to have a scoresheet, a pen or pencil, and records the accounts of the game as the outs and hits are recorded.

Next time any of you go to a baseball game, be it little league, high school, minors, or a major league game, give it a try.